Officials to talk with fire survivor Investigators seeking information about house fire that killed boy, 9.


Fire investigators are waiting to interview a survivor of a fire in Stoneleigh that took the life of a 9-year-old boy before conclusively determining what caused the fire.

"It's not suspicious in nature, or anything like that," Baltimore County Fire Chief Ralph Nelson said yesterday. "We have some pretty good ideas."

Without elaborating, Nelson said a preliminary investigation indicated that the cause of the fire was accidental.

Investigators want to talk with Bob Curtis Grothmann, 22, who received burns to nearly 50 percent of his body during the fire, which occurred early Sunday at a house in the 600 block of Regester Ave. in northern Baltimore County.

Grothmann was listed in critical condition yesterday at the burn center at Francis Scott Key Medical Center, a nurse there said.

It could be several days before investigators interview Bob Grothmann, Nelson said.

Killed in the fire was Grothmann's brother, John Christian Grothmann, a fourth-grader at Stoneleigh Elementary School. He was pronounced dead at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

Injured in the fire were a sister, Beth Grothmann, 22; William Grothmann, 15, a brother; and a friend, Ronald Drager, 25. All were treated for smoke inhalation at St. Joseph's Hospital.

Beth Grothmann was treated and released Sunday.

William Grothmann and Drager were released yesterday.

Neighbors broke windows and doors to rescue the family but were unable to save John.

The fire gutted the single-family house and caused $100,000 in damages to its structure and contents, Nelson said.

He said the house had no smoke detector, which could have warned the family of the fast-moving fire. Such a warning could have made all the difference, Nelson said. "Almost definitely."

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